A Jamaican singer who first made a name for herself during reggae’s rocksteady era of the 1960s.
Dawn Penn gave the reggae world a pleasant surprise when she returned to the charts in the early ’90s with a dancehall-influenced remake of her signature song “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No).”
The vocalist was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica where, in the late ’60s, she recorded the original version of that song for Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd’s Studio One label. At the time, Dodd was among reggae’s heavyweights, and Penn’s “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” became a major hit in Jamaica.
Penn made some more recordings for Studio One, including “Blue Yes Blue” (which was produced by the famous Prince Buster), and a reggae version of Lulu’s “To Sir with Love.” But in 1970, she left the music business altogether and moved to the Virgin Islands. During her 17-year hiatus from music, Penn paid the bills working for accounting firms, banks, and airlines, and it seemed doubtful that she would ever record again.
But in 1987, Penn returned to Jamaica in the hope of reviving her recording career. Nothing much happened for her in the late ’80s, but in the early ’90s, Steely & Clevie produced a dancehall-influenced remake of “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” and helped Penn enjoy her greatest visibility since the late ’60s. In 1994, Big Beat/Atlantic released No, No, No, Penn’s first full-length album since her comeback.